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The COVID-19 pandemic was—and continues to be—extremely rough for breweries, bars, and restaurants across the state. But for some, including Golden’s Holidaily Brewing Co., it also created new opportunities. Holidaily, the largest dedicated gluten-free brewery in the country, opened a new 2,350-square-foot taproom in Greenwood Village on August 27.
The new Denver Tech Center location will ideally introduce a whole new group of beer drinkers to Holidaily’s lineup of craft beers made with millet and buckwheat (plus hops!), instead of the usual gluten-abundant, beer-making grains of wheat, barley, or rye. And since Holidaily’s brewery is a completely gluten-free facility, there’s no risk of cross-contamination with its beers, either, which is a huge weight off the shoulders of people living with Celiac disease and other similar health conditions.
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While the brewery’s leadership team had been mulling over the idea of a second taproom for some time, the pandemic opened the door for them to set those plans in motion. “COVID-19 made some real estate opportunities available, so we felt like it was a good time to look,” says Karen Hertz, the brewery’s founder. “There was some space opening up and it gave us room to do some negotiating. The space we’re going to be in is really cool and it’s in this great spot. If it were pre-pandemic, I don’t know if we would’ve pulled the trigger.”
Hertz herself cut gluten out of her diet after being diagnosed with—and surviving—two types of cancer: melanoma in 2007 and thyroid cancer in 2009. Though the transition was relatively easy with other foods and beverages, she had a tougher time giving up beer. “I was told I needed to be gluten-free,” she said. “And there were no gluten-free beer options out there. There were decent ones in other areas, or I told myself I didn’t need the things that had gluten in them. But growing up in Colorado and loving sports and après-skiing and après-biking and hiking, I like to have a beer.”
Hertz, who holds an MBA in entrepreneurship from the University of Colorado Denver, was working in logistics and distribution at Coors at the time, so, in many ways, she was well-prepared to launch her own brewery. She began experimenting with homebrewing and, later, hired Wayne Burns to be Holidaily’s first brewer when it opened in 2016. Together, they tinkered with various gluten-free grain bills until they landed on recipes that produced delicious brews. (Burns has since left Holidaily and founded Burns Family Artisan Ales in Denver—today, Holidaily’s head brewer is Alan Windhausen.)
When Hertz first began thinking about starting the brewery, she had planned to simply produce and distribute gluten-free beers—she hadn’t really considered opening a taproom. But, acting on the sage advice of people in the industry, Hertz ultimately decided to build a brewery-adjacent space in Golden where people could sip her brews and get to know Holidaily—and each other. “A huge piece of the Holidaily culture is that we are providing beer and choices to a group of people who can’t otherwise have it. We talk a lot about, ‘What does that even mean?’ The taproom is just a place to build a community and make people happy,” Hertz says.
The Golden taproom, coupled with Hertz’s heroic self-distribution efforts (“It was me and my mom car knocking on a liquor store’s door and delivering them beer,” she says), helped give rise to Holidaily’s popularity among gluten-free and standard beer-drinkers alike. Eventually, the brewery began working with a distributor and, today, sells beer in stores across Colorado, Arizona, Kansas, and in a few other regions.
Still, Hertz wanted to bring the happy, community-focused vibes of the Golden taproom to another neighborhood in the Denver metro area. Hertz, a Colorado native, grew up near Greenwood Village and has fond childhood memories of setting up a sidewalk lemonade stand there, so the area felt like the right fit. “We love Golden, and Golden will be home forever, but the Denver Tech Center was far enough away that we felt like we might be able to reach a whole new group of people who don’t even know Holidaily exists,” she says. “This will be a new reach to a new group of people. I love the area, I grew up in that area, so it’s like I’m going home a little bit too.”
Though Holidaily’s team will still do most of the actual brewing at the Golden location, the new taproom will feature a pilot brewing system for small batches and some experimentation, Hertz says. The location, which is situated inside the Landmark movie theater/retail development area also gives beer drinkers the ability to order delivery or carry out from nearby restaurants via tabletop QR codes, including Ted’s Montana Grill, Hapa Sushi, Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, and Pizza Republica; there’s also an expansive dog-friendly patio to enjoy.
“The Landmark itself is totally different from our Golden taproom,” she says. “From the Golden taproom, you look at North Table Mountain and it’s pretty quiet. And this is a bit of a different vibe. There’s a movie theater, a Comedy Works, and restaurants all around us. It’s still a place to build a community and make people happy. Regardless of if you’re gluten-free or not, it is a great space to be in.”
Holidaily’s second taproom is located at 5370 Greenwood Plaza Blvd., Suite 107, Greenwood Village